Aw, I'm sick o' the whole darn human race, An' I'm sick o' this mundane ball; I'm sick o' the sight o' me brother's face, An' his works an' talk an' all; I'm sick o' he silly sounds I hear, I'm sick o' the sights I see; Ole Omar K. he knew good cheer, An' it's much the same with me.
Aw, go write yer tinklin' jingle, an' yer pretty phrases mingle, Fer the mamby-pamby girl, all fluffy frill an' shinin' silk. Them's the sort ter fetch yer trouble, when yer tries 'em, in the double. Blow yer beauty! Wot's the matter with the maiden 'oo kin milk? Them there rhymers uv the wattle! An' the bardlet uv the bottle - 'Im that sings uv sparklin' wine, an' does a perish fer the beer; An' yer slap-dash 'orsey po-it! Garn! If you blokes only know it, You 'ave missed the single subjec' fit ter rhyme about down 'ere. An' although I ain't a bard, with bloomin' bays upon me brow, I kinsider that it's up ter me ter sing about The Cow...
"Den" (C.J. Dennis) in "Backblock Ballads and Other Verses." (Cole. Melb)
"Den" needs no introduction to Australia. For Backblock Ballads and O.V. contains the Austra--aise, and "Den" is our unofficial laureate. Readers of this volume will be glad to see that this blanky classic has been further enriched by other stanzas. But not for this achievement alone should the book be in the hands of every bloke out-back. For "Den" bubbles with unforced humor, he possesses a diabolical dextrity in rime and metre, and his is probably the best artificially humorous of the many Australian contributors of topical verse. It is true he runs to length: even in the two selection given above this page found it necessary to lop off what it regarded as rather unnecessary stanzas. His verses remind one of his "Juno Sue":-
She didn't 'ave no width, this piece - This elongated piece; The figger that the 'ad was mostly length. I tell you, she reminded me Of one perpetual lease That doesn't cease. Now, 'ave you got 'er strength?
But in this prosaic continent poetry - and humor - is measured by a foot-rule, and the longer a contribuor is the longer he will be able to live. And "Den's" humor is not merely typographical; nor is he confined to the back-blocks:-
Me! that 'as barracked tarts, an' torked an' larft, An' chucked orf at 'em like a phonergraft! Gorstrooth! I seemed to lose me pow'r o' speech. But 'er! Oh, strike me pink! She is a peach! The sweetest in the barrer! Spare me days, I carn't describe that cliner's winnin' ways. The way she torks! 'Er lips! 'Er eyes! 'Er hair! ... Oh, gimme air!
"I wish't yeh meant it, Bill." Oh, 'ow me 'eart Went out to 'er that ev'nin' on the beach. I knoo she weren't no ordinary tart, My little peach! I tell yeh, square an' all, me 'eart stood still To 'ear 'er say, "I wish't yeh meant it, Bill."
These extracts are all from a lyrical sequence entitled "The Sentimental Bloke," in which the poet depicts, with inimitable humor and tenderness, the courtship of Bill and his Doreen. "The Stoush o' Day," in this series is a brilliant description of the daily prize fight between the White Hope, Day, and the Nigger, Night. Its length precludes its quotation here. But there is room for its moral:-
An', square an' all, no matter 'ow yeh start, The commin end of most of us is - Tart.
Poetically, these four lyrics are the finest things in the volume.
Though much of his verse is in dialect, this fact need not dismay the gentle reader; for the poet has thougthfully provided a glossary. From this we learn that chap is "any male personage below the rank of a personage." That cow is "a thoroughly despicable person, place, situation, thing or circumstance," and that a fair cow is an utterly obnoxious and otherwise inexpressible person, etc. Also, that the superlative of crook is dead crook; that Fatville is "the fabled abode of the Tories"; that strike me pink may, if necessary, be translated as "goodness gracious." Under the heading Stoush, "Fisticuffs," we learn: "Scrap is generic, and may be applied to all violent conflicts, whether dog fights, pitched battles or prolonged wars. Lash implies much brutality, and the employment of weapons not necessarily lethal. A mill is usually a glove contest. Stoush is a less orderly form of fistic combat; job or biff usually implies a single blow." And for Wowsers, the poet kindly supplies this note: "Where a dash replaces a missing word, the adjective blessed may be interpolated. In cases demanding great emphasis the use of the word blooming is permissible."
The Bulletin, 21 August 1915, red page
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